After a tour, guests in our home often ask where the TV is. Of course, many contemporary living rooms are arranged around the television, whereas 1906 families wouldn’t have owned a television until at least decades later (the term ‘television’ had only been coined in 1900), so their sitting rooms were arranged around facilitating conversation. I’ve always been committed to ensuring my living rooms have been arranged for conversation rather than static entertainment, but having a quality contemporary media center is important in a home with two creatives, one of whom works in film!
At first, we struggled with how to hide a media center in the home while maintaining the home’s period-accurate appearance. We also didn’t want to block the huge and gorgeous picture window! Our solution turned out to be built into the house already; the wood beams in the living room made an easy hiding place for the components.
We purchased a short-throw projector in order to avoid the beam being interrupted by either the living room fan or the other beams. We then mounted a projector screen behind the furthest visible beam, essentially blocking the rolled-up screen from view. The five surround-sound speakers are black, so they disappear next to the beams and create a surround-sound experience. All the cables go directly up into the ceiling, where Jon wired them through the attic, eliminating the need to burrow through the plaster walls or hide unsightly cables.
For the components, we purchased a little hutch at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $20. In there, we keep the DVD player, Wii, receiver, AppleTV, and, most importantly, some IR remote control repeaters. The remote control signals work even with the cabinet doors closed because of these repeaters! The subwoofer sits next to the hutch. You can probably spot it because it’s the only black item in the living room other than the wood-burning stove, but it doesn’t stand out too much.
The screen automatically lowers and raises itself with the push of a button that also turns on the AppleTV and receiver! Fortunately, the beam is strong enough to make the image stand out both at night and during the day without requiring any curtains for the living room windows.
I would highly recommend this method for anyone else attempting to put a new media center into an older home that wouldn’t have had anything other than a phonograph or radio in its time. Forget the TV- a projector is much bigger and cheaper anyway! And, although a scattered few AirBnb guests have asked if there’s a TV in the bedroom, we think people are more likely to be in the area to explore and socialize than to hang out in the guest room. Then again, maybe that’s just us.